Place:Birkenhead, Cheshire, England

TypeBorough (county)
Coordinates53.4°N 3.033°W
Located inCheshire, England     ( - 1974)
Also located inMerseyside, England     (1974 - )
See alsoWirral (hundred), Cheshire, Englandhundred in which it was situated
Birkenhead Registration District, Cheshire, Englandregistration district of which it was part 1837-1871
Wirral (metropolitan borough), Merseyside, Englandmetropolitan borough of which it has been part since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Until 1974, Birkenhead was a county borough in Cheshire on the Wirral Peninsula, along the west bank of the River Mersey, opposite the City of Liverpool. It is now a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral in Merseyside, England. At the 2001 UK Census, the town had a population of over 83,500. Birkenhead is perhaps best known as a centre for ship building, as a seaport and its related industries.



Birkenhead originated as a township in Bidston Parish of the Wirral Hundred. It was incorporated as a municipal borough within the county of Cheshire in 1877, and became a county borough with the passing of the Local Government Act 1888.
The borough originally included

Further townships were added in 1928 and 1933:

On 1 April 1974, Birkenhead and the rest of the Wirral Peninsula, was transferred to the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, in the newly established metropolitan county of Merseyside. The implementation of the Local Government Act 1972 caused Birkenhead to lose its county borough status. It still remains the largest conurbation within the Wirral.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

The name Birkenhead is possibly from the Old English bircen meaning birch tree, of which many once grew on the headland which jutted into the river at Woodside.

The earliest records state that the Mersey ferry began operating from Birkenhead in 1150, when Benedictine monks under the leadership of Hamon de Mascy built a priory there. Distanced from the Industrial Revolution in Liverpool by the physical barrier of the River Mersey, Birkenhead retained its agricultural status until the advent of steam ferry services. In 1817 a steam ferry service started from Liverpool to Tranmere and in 1822 the paddle steamer, Royal Mail, began operation between Liverpool and Woodside.

Shipbuilding started in 1829. An iron works was initially established by William Laird in 1824 and was joined by his son John Laird in 1828. The business eventually became Cammell Laird. Notable naval vessels built at Birkenhead include HMS Achilles, HMS Affray, CSS Alabama, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Birkenhead, HMS Caroline, Huáscar, the pioneer submarine Resurgam, HMS Thetis (which sank on trials in Liverpool Bay during sea trials, and was refloated and commissioned as HMS Thunderbolt, only to be lost to enemy action with the loss of the entire crew), HMS Conqueror and HMS Prince of Wales. Merchant vessels were also built such as RMS Mauretania and RMS Windsor Castle.

In addition to the ferries, the Mersey Railway tunnel in 1886 and the Queensway road tunnel in 1934 gave rapid access to Liverpool. This opened up the Wirral Peninsula for development, and prompted further growth of Birkenhead as an industrial centre. The town's population grew from 110 in 1801 to 110,912 one hundred years later and stood at 142,501 by 1951.

In September 1932 thousands of unemployed people protested in a series of demonstrations organised by the local branch of the National Unemployed Workers Movement. After three days of rioting, police were brought in from elsewhere to help quell the rioters.


the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Shipbuilding and ship repair still features prominently in the local economy. The long-standing firm of Cammell Laird entered receivership in 2001. The shipyard was sold and became 'Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders', which grew into a successful business specialising in ship repair and conversion, including maintenance contracts for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. In September 2007 NS&S acquired the rights to use the Cammell Laird name.


As well as Birkenhead St. Mary which became a civil parish, Birkenhead had a number of other churches which produced birth, marriage and death registers. The names of the churches are as follows:

Birkenhead St Mary
Birkenhead Holy Trinity
Birkenhead St John
Birkenhead St Paul
Birkenhead St Peter
Birkenhead St James
Birkenhead St Bede
Birkenhead St Matthew
Birkenhead St Mark
Birkenhead St Mary and St Paul
Birkenhead St Pater with St Matthew
Birkenhead St James with St Bede

Research Tips

  • Wikipedia's Merseyside page has two maps outlining the five districts of Merseyside. The second one illustrates the urban sections of all five districts and allows one to get a picture of the Wirral Peninsula today.

The following two maps illustrate the Wirral Peninsula at earlier dates:

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Birkenhead. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.